Maybe it was the fact it was Friday the 13th, maybe it was because the weather was finally warming up from our deep freeze or maybe it was just that final exams were done and the festival holidays were fast approaching, but this Friday night had a peculiar vibe throughout.
As I have a habit of doing, I arrived far too early, so I decided to nurse some beers by my lonesome at the side of the bar. As I noticed the Pal starting to fill up with the friendly faces I’ve come to know, Edmonton’s Switches hit the stage. I had quickly looked at the band’s Facebook page earlier that day, so I was a little disappointed they were missing the promised denim tuxedos, but they did fulfill their promise to be my “next favourite band.” Fast, tempo-changing, punk-y garage rock was channeled through the smoky, coarse vocals of lead singer Tara McMahon. “That song was about hating roommates,” she mentions betweens songs, “and this song is about loving mushrooms.” And like that, they had me. Highlights of the set were the soulful-yet-raw “Far Away” and the shifting-yet-catchy “Bones and Hair.” Also of note was that this would be the live debut of their new bassist, Katie.
The crowd became thicker as the always-entertaining Lorrie Matheson hit the stage with his latest project, Sons of Bears. Starting with his back to the crowd, Matheson and friends wasted no time diving into their straight-shooting, melodic brand of rock and roll. The night seemed to be rolling quickly by as the Wet Secrets soon made their presence to the stage. For those unaware, the sight of a band adorned in full marching band outfits might be kind a shock, but as the opening notes of new single “Sunshine” hit the air, it became clear that there’s something incredibly exceptional about this group from Edmonton. Horns and frenetic energy captivated the hungry crowd until the wee hours of the morning. Overall, it was a diverse and unique showcase of talent, especially from our friends up Highway No. 2.
By Cory Jones
Photos: Sebastian Buzzalino